KYLE BUSCH Just the 'Right' Amount HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 3, 2010) - Over the past couple of years, Kyle Busch has started to look forward to turning left and right during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' two annual visits to road courses. But...
Just the 'Right' Amount
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Aug. 3, 2010) - Over the past couple of years, Kyle Busch has started to look forward to turning left and right during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' two annual visits to road courses.
But while the driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) enjoys every chance he gets to hit the racetrack, don't confuse him for someone who would want to throw right turns into the mix every single weekend.
The talented 25-year-old now always feels as if he has a shot to win whenever he visits Infineon Raceway in Sonoma Calif., each June, and Watkins Glen (N.Y) International each August, where he'll be for Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen.
For a racer who grew up on the short track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway known as the "Bullring," he's always had a soft spot for the oval tracks, and short tracks in particular. But even though Busch grew up on the short track scene, he has taken to road course racing quite well, especially since joining JGR at the beginning of 2008. That year, he dominated the road course scene, leading 130 of the total 202 laps en route to victories at both Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
As if that weren't enough, Busch started things off in April of that year by capturing his first road course victory of any kind when he competed with the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City, where he led twice for a total of 22 laps on his way to victory lane.
This summer's opening road course event at Sonoma was not as kind to Busch as he was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 10 that resulted in extensive time behind the wall for repairs. This weekend, he hopes his return to the 11-turn, 2.45-mile Watkins Glen layout in upstate New York will yield a little better luck, at least enough to help him improve on last year's fourth-place finish there.
So while Busch's success on the road courses in recent years reflects his newfound enjoyment of mixing right turns with lefts, he stands firm in his belief that two road course races per year is just the "right" amount. As for this weekend at The Glen, Busch hopes a healthy dose of right turns helps him navigate his way right to victory lane in a repeat performance of his 2008 win there. The precious bonus points - 10 for each win scored during the 26-race "regular season" - would certainly come in handy with the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup that starts just four races after the checkered flag flies on Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:
Do you prefer Watkins Glen over Infineon Raceway?
"No, not really. I like both road courses. They're both fun. For me, road racing is enjoyable. You get a chance to turn right and turn left and do something different than what you typically do. For me, I'm excited about it. Hopefully, we have a good shot at running well there again this year with our M&M's Camry. We won two years ago and finished fourth last year, so we've been decent and, hopefully this time around, we'll do the same."
Is it fun to drive on a road course every once and awhile? Does it help to break up the schedule a bit?
"I like it. Road courses are fun. It's just fun the couple of times each year you get to do it. I wouldn't be a road racer and go racing road courses every weekend. I don't like them that much. To me, it's something fun to do every once in a while and, for sure, it's a nice break from the oval racing we do. I like the amount of road races we have on the schedule now."
When did you become better at road course racing?
"I think I really hit it probably in '07, when I was still at Hendrick. I think I finished 10th out at Sonoma or something. We had an okay day. But then at Watkins Glen, I think I was running fifth or fourth, just passed Jeff Gordon, and that's when my track bar broke and I went six laps down fixing that, got all the 'Lucky Dogs' to get back on the lead lap, and finished 12th. But we were really fast and we were good. I took that experience from '07 into '08 with the M&M's car and Joe Gibbs Racing and we swept both races and were pretty good at it. I feel like I'm a relatively good road course racer. It took me a little bit to get used to it, to figure out how hard to charge the corners or how hard not to charge the corners, and different braking techniques."
How does a driver prepare for road course racing?
"I don't know what really gives you an advantage in road racing. I think having road race experience, whether it's go-karts, Legends cars or Late Models - whatever it might be - it always helps out. The more you're able to get some experience at charging the corners, to try and get it off the corners and stuff like that, it kind of gives you a little different perspective. It's a different technique here on road courses. You have to be open-minded and, of course, if you enjoy it and it's something fun for you, then you have a good time doing it."
Is there any driver you dread seeing in your rear-view mirror on a road course?
"Anyone who's faster than I am. If they're coming up behind you and they're faster than you, you've got to figure something out to try to hold them off or beat them. Besides that, all drivers are the same. They'll make their way around you if their car is good enough."
Do you enjoy road course racing?
"The road courses are fun. For me, I enjoy it. It's pretty cool to go out there and race the road courses. You get to turn right, turn left and everything, so it's fun. Sonoma is more technical just because there are more turns and it's a little bit slower. You have to concentrate on getting off the corner a little bit and have good forward bite. Watkins Glen is more like a speedway road course. It's really fast and you have to maneuver the corners at a high rate of speed. This weekend will be a fun race. I always look forward to going up there and challenging the road course."
Is it any more challenging to keep up with the strategy on a road course?
"You pretty much have to let this race go by as it's going to go by. You're not going to short-pit somebody and get out in front of them and beat them by doing that because you have to make sure you have enough fuel. It's all about fuel mileage. To me, I just run the race the best we can. You try to save in spots that you can save. If you're just riding around, if you're running third or whatever on lap 22, you're just going to be riding - you're not going to be pushing it that hard. You'll shift a little bit less. You'll keep it in second gear longer or go to third sooner, whatever it takes."